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Meet Jonathan Bernwieser – CEO and Founder of Europe’s Most Successful AgTech Startup

Today we have selected Jonathan Bernwieser to take his interview. He is CEO and Founder of Agrando.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Reacting quickly to external influences is part of our Agrando DNA. So it was easy for us to take precautions early, and we were able to move 100 employees to remote status from one day to the next.

One of our core values is “We care about each other,” so protecting our Agrando family was paramount. We placed a lot of emphasis on communication and virtual exchange. And although our teams work at different locations, they have become even closer during this time. That is amazing and makes us immensely proud. The fact that we were able to keep all our plans despite COVID-19 is a great team achievement.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I grew up on a farm in the south of Germany. It was clear early on that my brother would take over the farm one day so that I could turn to a different industry. I studied business informatics and was quickly excited by the possibilities of digitization. I moved into a completely different world than my father did on our farm. At least that’s what I thought. But one day, I saw him sitting in our kitchen over a pile of invoices.

And I realized that he was controlling his agricultural business right now, just like other businesses in other industries. The kitchen was his main office, and he was deciding on several tens of thousands of Euros here. Only he did not use any analysis software, controlling programs, or an enterprise resource planning system. He makes decisions mainly based on experience and gut feeling.

Legal requirements are becoming more complicated, the purchase prices for inputs are rising, while the revenues for agricultural products are falling – it is not an easy task for my father to hand over the farm to my brother one day in an economically sound condition. That’s when the spark was lit up in me: couldn’t my father work much more economically and sustainably if he had more digital support?

This idea stuck with me, and after testing a few business approaches, I founded Agrando in 2017 according to today’s principle.

How does your company innovate?

We are a young company, and we hired many people during the last twelve months: New ideas come with new team members. They also come along with our routine of constantly evaluating our work, success, and plans.

How the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

COVID-19 hit the agricultural sector especially hard, which is why our biggest challenge is the one our clients are facing: Family-run businesses were and are facing completely new obstacles. To support them and establish contact despite that has been the true challenge.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Since the foundation, we had to adapt according to what we learned from and with our clientele. We are still striving to become a strong partner for agricultural businesses, but we had to adjust how we are doing that.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Our main guidelines, if you like, are our core values. They influence our jobs daily. We also focus on hiring only people who match these core values.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

While other platforms offer an online shop for agricultural supplies, no other company in Germany supports farmers the way we do. We are not simply a marketplace for agricultural inputs. Agrando is the business partner and assistant who helps farmers run their family businesses more sustainable, profitable, and efficient.

Your final thoughts:

As a leader and colleague, it is most important to be open to being involved emotionally in what you do. Be persistent, know who you are working for, and do not be afraid to fail.

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